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Cinema Film round-up: May 6, 2022

The Star's critic Maria Duarte reviews of Wake Up Punk, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Wild Men, and Atabai

Wake Up Punk (15)
Directed by Nigel Askew
★★★

THE son of legendary British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood burns £5 million worth of punk memorabilia, including some of his mother’s work, in protest against the commodification of punk in this compelling film.

Businessman-turned-activist Joe Corre, co-founder of Agent Provocateur, voices his anger at the misappropriation of the punk movement by the Establishment — the very people they were denouncing. He reveals how his father Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, would turn in his grave if he saw how the anarchy symbol features on a credit card.

In frank and candid interviews, his mother recounts the birth of punk rock and her blossoming career in tandem with that of her husband’s. It is fascinating and absolutely captivating viewing as she recalls for example how the police confiscated all her explicitly sexy T-shirts during a raid, but left the ones which showed you how to make a bomb.

Corre reveals how, when he was a child, his parents were considered anti-Establishment scum, whereas now his mum is deemed a national treasure. As such, it personally feels criminal watching her early designs go up in flames, though he is unrepentant: determined to raise environmental awareness and put pressure on the government to take action now to avoid our extinction.

Director Nigel Askew delivers an impassioned, hugely entertaining and equally informative film which opens a window on a historic era which, despite Corre’s efforts, cannot be snuffed out.

In select cinemas May 6 and on demand from May 9

 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (12A)
Directed by Sam Raimi
★★

HELL hath no fury — or desperation — as a woman implacable in her pursuit of motherhood at whatever cost, according to this sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange.

Directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man 2002) from a script by Michael Waldron (Loki) it sadly reinforces the chauvinistic idea that women aren’t complete until they become a mother, as Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen delivering a knock-out performance) bizarrely mourns for the loss of the fake sons she created out of thin air in the television series WandaVision.

This turns her into a crazed on-the-edge figure, which is insulting and offensive all round — particularly to one of the most powerful members of the Avengers. Frankly, she deserved better and, I suspect, would have got as much under a female writer.

Meanwhile, Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch totally owning the role) is battling his own multiverse and relationship demons as he finds himself protecting a young girl, America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), from an evil force determined to take her superhero powers.

Despite its thrilling action scenes (including a fight-off with musical notes), peppered humour and fun cameos, in order to follow the intricate plot you need to have seen Disney’s WandaVision first and, to some extent, What If...? too. Otherwise, you will feel lost in this multiverse madness — another major failure of this sequel.

In cinemas May 5

Wild Men (15)
Directed by Thomas Daneskov
★★★★

SET against the backdrop of the stunning Norwegian wilderness, this Danish black comedy provides an insightful and creative examination of masculinity and mental illness today.

Co-writer-director Thomas Daneskov’s surreal film follows Martin (Rasmus Bjerg), who, in the midst of a midlife crisis, escapes his family in Denmark and heads to the Norwegian mountains to live off the land like his ancestors — dressed as a Viking.

When the going gets tough, he tries to barter for food at the local petrol station with hilarious yet violent results; his chance meeting with an injured drug smuggler Musa (an impressive Zaki Youssef) leads to the beginning of an unlikely but heartfelt friendship.

Bjerg gives a masterful performance as this sweet yet delusional man trying to reconnect with nature in search of a simpler stress-free existence, whose bubble is burst by Musa as well as calls from his worried, long-suffering wife (Sofie Grabol).

Endearing, wonderfully funny and totally bonkers, it is impossible to look away as you root for Martin.

In cinemas May 6

 

Atabai
Directed by Niki Karimi
★★★

THIS surprisingly poignant and compelling Iranian drama tells the story of a middle-aged architect who has to come to terms with his past in order to move forward with his future.

Co-written and directed by Niki Karimi — one of Iran’s most internationally acclaimed actors — the film follows Atabai (Hadi Hejazifar) who, on his return to his home village in Azerbaijan province, discovers to his horror that his brother-in-law has sold his orchard to a stranger; his world further upended when he falls for the new owner’s eldest daughter (Sahar Dolatshahi).

Resigned to be alone and loveless after fleeing Tehran following a failed relationship and still haunted by the suicide years earlier of his 15-year-old sister after her arranged marriage, Atabai finds it difficult to forgive himself and move on.

This sensitively drawn, multilayered, slow-burning romantic drama is both moving and touching as it confronts self-forgiveness and new life versus old, driven home by an understated yet heartfelt performance by Hejazifar and his equally talented supporting cast.

In cinemas May 6

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